Contributed by F. W. Viebrock
FERGUSON township was laid out on a petition of residents of Pike, Penn, and Jordan townships. The viewers or commissioners were John Irvin, David Ferguson and David Cathcart. Their report was confirmed February 7, 1839, and township named Ferguson, by the court, in honor of John Ferguson, an early settler and respected citizen.
Probably the first settlement within the present bounds of the township was made by Robert McKee, some time previous to 1819, on the farm now owned by W. H. Smith. Some time between 1806 and 1819, James Rea and James Hagarty (whose names have been mentioned in connection with the history of Knox township), with their families came to McKee's to a wood-chopping. In the evening they all returned home except Hagarty, who lingered behind talking to Robert McCracken. He did not return, and at early dawn Mr. Rea went back to see what had become of his neighbor. He found him a short distance below McKee's shanty in the woods, dead. The surroundings indicated that he had been murdered, but by whom was never clearly proven. McKee made but little improvement, and what became of him we cannot learn. John Henry lived on the same place a short time, but in 1836, John Miles, sr., came to the township, and purchased two hundred acres of land (which included the McKee property), from McCalls of Philadelphia, through their agent, Josiah Smith, of Clearfield, Pa. In 1838 he sold one-half of it to John S. Williams, upon which he now lives, and a short time before his death in 1857, he sold the balance to his son-in-law, William H. Smith, who still occupies it. John Ferguson, Thomas McCracken, John Hockenberry, William Wiley and John Campbell all came to the township, as near as we can learn, about the same time in 1823.
John Ferguson, for whom the township was named, was a son of John Ferguson, sr., who lived at the river where John B. Ferguson now lives, and a brother of David Ferguson mentioned elsewhere. He married Elizabeth Wiley, a sister of William Wiley, and located on the land now owned by his son, John C. Ferguson. Besides improving this land he built a saw-mill on the head waters of Little Clearfield Creek. He lived there several years and then rnoved to Lumber City, where he engaged in the grocery business. From there he moved to Lockport, near Lock Haven, Pa., where he died May 1, 1874, at the age of seventy-four, and his body was brought to his old home near Lumber City for burial, Four children survive: Mary Hannah, married Dr. J. M. Ross, and lives in Lumber City; Debbie, married Archibald G. Jameson, and moved to Kansas, where they are now living; Elizabeth married Lewis Hoover, son of Peter Hoover, of Pike township, and lives at Lock Haven, Pa.; John C., the only son, is a prominent citizen of his native township. He married Ann, daughter of William Price, of Pike township, and now lives at Kerrmoor, having rented the old farm. John Hockenberry lived on the farm now owned by David Read. Of his children Mrs. William Wise and Mrs. Archey Jordan, lived in Jordan township; Ann, lives near Curwensville; David and Marion moved to the West. William Wiley made the first improvement on lands now owned by John N. and Lewis B. Hill. He moved into Knox township, and made an improvement on land which is known as the John McMurry farm; and from there he moved to the State of Wisconsin, where he died several years ago.
Thomas McCracken married Rebecca Bell, daughter of Arthur Bell, of Pike township, and lived for a few years where William Price now lives in Pike township. He purchased the land embraced in what is now owned by Alfred, Philip and William McCracken, He lived there until his death, in 1847. They were blessed with a family of ten children: Mary married Gainer Passmore of Pike township; both are dead. James married Mrs. Christiana Barton, and purchased a house in Knox township, which he occupied until his death; his widow and four children survive him. Greenwood married Elizabeth, daughter of John High, sr. and lived on part of the old place, until a short time before his death he moved into Knox township; his widow lives with her son Alfred, who now owns his fathers farm. Arthur died young. W. Grier was never married, but lives alone on his farm, part of which belonged to his father. Nancy was married to Daniel Siford, but is not now living. Sarah died in infancy. David S. married Susanna, daughter of Jacob Shaffer, of Brady township; he is now a widower and lives near the old homestead. Philip married Mary Jane Raney, and lives on his father's farm. Elizabeth married John McDivitt, and lives near Lumber City.
John Campbell came here from Tuscarora Valley, Juniata county, where he was born about 1797, and is the only one of the first settlers now living. He is living now on the mountain road between Janesville and Tyrone. His first wife was a Miss Briggs, of Juniata county. Eight children were the result of this union: Sheba, the eldest daughter, married a Mr. Alleman, and moved to Virginia, where she died, leaving a son who is now dead, and one daughter, Kate, who is married to Silas Reese, and lives at Philipsburg. Rachael married a Mr. Hope, who is dead; she is now living in Juniata county. Lavina married Nelson Young, and lives in Greenwood township, not far from her former home. Lemuel was never married; he lives at Bower, Pa. Elizabeth died young. John married Susanna McCracken, daughter of Greenwood McCracken, deceased; he went to the war, became a member of company K, Eighty-fourth Regiment, was taken prisoner at Andersonville in 1864, and died there. Jane, a single daughter, lives with her sister, Mrs. Hope; when she was five years old she wandered away from her father's home in the wilderness of Ferguson township, and the whole neighborhood turned out and formed lines of search which lasted several days. She was finally found at the house of Mr. Bell, who had rescued her just as she was wading into the river. Malinda, the youngest, lives in California. The children of his second wife are Mrs John Solly, of Ferguson township, and Elizabeth, wife of Enoch McMasters, of Chest township.
David Ferguson, a brother of John, came into the township in 1839. He had previously lived near Lumber City, but a short time after his return from the Legislature of which he was a member for two years, he located on the farm where his son Alexander now lives. He built what was called a sash-frame saw-mill on the site where the Clearfield Lumber Company's large steam saw-mill is located. He was a civil engineer and did most of the surveying in this neighborhood at that time, and taught school occasionally. He married Miss Rachel McKee, of Cumberland county, Pa., who shared with him the joys and sorrows subject to humanity, and now lies by his side in the old grave-yard, on the banks of the Susquehanna, below Lumber City. Six children are living: Alexander, the oldest son, married M. Amanda, daughter of Joseph Straw, of this township, and lives on the old homestead, which is now one of the most valuable farms in the district; Captain John B. Ferguson married Ada, daughter of Samuel Kirk, and owns and lives on the farm that once belonged to his grandfather; Mary Jane married Frampton McCracken, and lives at Murray; David Luther, married his cousin, Eliza, daughter of James Ferguson; he has been one of the largest dealers in lumber in the county, but is now in California, and I believe is making preparations to move to that State in the near future; James H. married Lucy, daughter of Thomas Owens, and lives in Ferguson township; Eliza, married a Mr. Mills, who died some time ago, and she is now residing at Murray.
Robert McCracken located a piece of land which he sold some forty or more years ago to George G. Williams, who came here from Centre county. These forty years of toil has transformed that woodland into probably the finest farm in the township. Grier Bell was among the first settlers of Ferguson township and said to be the second white child born in the county. He was a son of Arthur Bell, one of the first pioneers of the county, and was born in 1799. He married Miss Hettie Roll, of Armstrong county, Pa. With an eye to the future, he secured a large tract of the best timber land in the county, and was wise enough to keep it until it became very valuable, all the while clearing the land, which is now a beautiful farm. In fact a good portion of this timber is standing yet, and owned by his daughter, Josephine, and son, Warren, it being one of the few lots of valuable timber in the county. He died and was buried by the side of his companion on the old farm where they had spent years of toil, on the 27th of February, 1886. Only three children of a large family are now living: Cortes F., married Matilda Hegarty, and lives in Ferguson township, on the banks of the Susquehanna; Josephine, married Samuel Hegarty, and lives at Hegarty's Cross Roads; Warren W., married Miriam, daughter of Abraham Snyder, of Pike township, and lives on his farm adjoining the old homestead. The Straws, Moores and Tubbses were among the families who came soon after those we have named, and compose a majority of the present population, but space will not allow a more extended notice.
The first school built in the township was built on John Ferguson's farm. The exact date of its erection is not known, but was previous to 1841. Ross Robison was the first teacher, and was succeeded by Joseph Moore, who became a prominent citizen of the township, but is now dead, and David Ferguson, whose name is mentioned elsewhere. Another house was built near or on the farm now owned by Christ Shoff, but here memory fails and nothing more can be learned. The school facilities of the township are not neglected, but have kept pace with the march of improvement. Six good school-houses adorn her hills and valleys today, divided into the following districts: Stony Point, Friendship, Broadway, Sugar Grove, Marron and Woods.
Marron is a post-office village consisting of a few very aged houses, and is on the road leading from Kerrmoor to Newburg. It is sometimes called Mexico, although whence the names are derived I do not know. No industries have ever been started, and, consequently, the town did not grow, and perhaps not more than three or four families have their permanent residence there. William Barret is the postmaster.
During the summer of 1884 the members of Zion Baptist Church concluded to build a house of worship at Marron, for the convenience of the members living in that section; consequently John T. Straw, Enoch Straw, Glenn Williams, George Michaels and Christian J. Shoff, were appointed as a building committee, and at once commenced the work. It was completed the same year at a cost of twenty-three hundred dollars, and dedicated November 9, 1884, by the pastor, Rev. Samuel Miles, assisted by Rev. Forgeus, of Bellwood, Pa. The building is of modern architecture, and is a credit to the denomination.
The Marron Lutheran Church was organized lately, by Rev. George W. Crist, of New Millport, with a membership of thirty. This new organization contemplate building a house of worship this year. Ample arrangements have already been made, and the work will be speedily pushed forward. In the autumn of 1861 Nicholas Tubbs and his wife Ieft their four children, the eldest about twelve, at home by themselves to keep house while they went to a meeting that was in progress in the old school-house that is still standing in Marron. The house in which Tubbs lived stood near where Mrs. Green now lives An alarm of fire was heard, when the whole congregation rushed out and went in the direction of the fire, and found it to be Nicholas Tubbs's house. Nothing could be done, however, and the children were roasted to death, in sight of their parents.
Tile village of Gazzam is located on both sides of the East Branch of Little Clearfield Creek, and is the terminus of the Beech Creek Railroad. In January, 1884, the Clearfield Bituminous Coal Company, through their superintendent, George H. Platt, contracted with F. S. Naugle for building twenty dwelling-houses, a large boarding-house and storeroom, and by the next autumn what had been a swampy wilderness was transformed into a very respectable little town, and named in honor of Hon. Joseph M. Gazzam, of Philadelphia. The mines were opened and operated under the direction of George H. Platt, general superintendent, until his death, January 1, 1887. Since that time Robert A. Shillingsford, assisted by Alexander Dunsmore, has had control. They are shipping at this time from twenty to twenty-four cars of coal per day. The mine is in sight of Ansonville, about one mile distant, and the coal is transported to the main track at Gazzam with a dummy engine on narrow gauge road.
The Clearfield Bituminous Coal Company have a general store, of which A. Root is manager. Stevens Brothers also have a general store. A post-office was established in the winter of 1885-6, and opened for the delivery of mail matter the 8th day of January, 1886, with R. H. McGarvey as the first postmaster. The first and only hotel in the place is the Gazzam House, built and occupied by Zenas L. Ardray. During the winter of 1886-7 the Methodists, with their characteristic enterprise, organized a society under the direction of Rev. J. A. Miller, a local preacher. As yet they have no house of worship, but have preaching every alternate Sabbath by Revs. H. N. Murnigh and Bruce Hughes, of Lumber City circuit. The first school was opened in December, 1886, by Miss Frankie Johnston, of Bower, Pa., with an attendance of forty pupils. A Union Sabbath-school was organized January 27, 1887, of which A. Root is the superintendent.
In 1881-2 Martin Watts, a prominent citizen of the township, and owner of several hundred acres of timber land, built a large steam saw-mill where the Lumber City pike crosses the West Branch of Little Clearfield Creek. He added to it a shingle-mill, planing-mill, lath-mill, and cider-mill and press. His sons, under the firm name of S. C. & J. P. Watts, attached their machinery for manufacturing apiary supplies. They do a large and extensive business, shipping their celebrated chaff hives to nearly all parts of the United States. Quite a respectable little town is now built up, all owned by them except two dwelling houses. Through their efforts a post-office was established at that point in 1883, and named Murray in honor of Thomas Murray, esq., of Clearfield, Pa., and Samuel C. Watts appointed postmaster. The change in the National administration caused a change of postmasters, and in the early part of 1886 R. H. Moore was appointed, and the office moved to his store in Kerrmoor, about one-half mile below,
In 1886 the sons succeeded their father in all of the business transacted at that place, and are now in operation under the firm name of Watts Brothers. They also own a general store, and have induced the Beech Creek Railroad Company to build a branch from Kerrmoor to their mill.
Named in honor of its originators, Moore Brothers & Kerr, the metropolis of the township, is located at the forks of Little Clearfield Creek, and like its neighbor, Gazzam, sprang into existence as a consequence of the building of the Beech Creek Railroad, and has had almost a phenomenal growth, not of cheap structures as is usually the rule in such cases, but some very fine residences have been built The land upon which the town is built was owned by Joseph and William Moore, two of the early settlers and prominent citizens of the township, and occupied by Ross McCracken, who lived here alone for many years in a shanty. In 1884 Robert and Milton (eldest sons of William) Moore, and James Kerr, ex-prothonotary of Clearfield county, under the firm name of Moore Brothers & Co., purchased the land and immediately laid it out in town lots. The first house was built the same year by Daniel Korb, and it was soon followed by the large dwelling house and storeroom built by the firm. The Clearfield Lumber Company secured the site known as Henry's old saw-mill property," about one-half mile below the village, and proceeded to build the large steam mill from which they are shipping large quantities of manufactured lumber. Moore Brothers & Co. keep a general store. Albert Straw, son of ex- County Commissioner John T. Straw, of this township, is proprietor of a clothing and grocery store. The hardware store and tin shop is owned by Ferguson Brothers, sons of John C. Ferguson, a prominent citizen of the place, and son of the township's namesake. B. F. Lloyd has a confectionery, and T. H. Goon a restaurant. J. S. McCreary, at one time principal of the high schools of Lumber City, has a fine residence and is justice of the peace. A telegraph and express office is established in conjunction with the passenger and freight station, and preparations are being made for a telephone connection with Clearfield and intermediate points. Large quantities of tan-bark are shipped from here, as well as other points along the line, giving employment to large numbers of laboring men. Previous to 1885 the elections were held at Broadway " in a little old log house, about eighty rods from Kerrmoor, but on petition of the citizens of the township in that year, the voting place was changed to Kerrmoor, and is held in J. S. McCreary's office, At this writing there is no church organization in the village. The Presbyterians are arranging to build a church this year. A union Sunday-school has been organized, with R. H. Jameson as the first superintendent. The school is large, well attended, and much interest manifested. Since the above writing, the school has been changed to Presbyterian, and J. S. McCreary elected superintendent.
Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church.-The first services held by the Lutherans in this place were conducted by Philip Geulich, a lay elder, who lived about one mile northwest of Clearfield town. He was called the father of Lutheranism in Clearfield county. The German element settling near Little Clearfield Creek were mostly of the Lutheran faith. About the year 1834, or earlier, they assembled in a private house and Mr. Geulich read sermons from his sermon book. In connection with these sermons in English he gave exhortations in German. About the same time Rev. C. F. Heyer, afterwards first Lutheran missionary to Guntoor, India, traveled over Clearfield county and preached in this locality. In 1837 Mr. Geulich made an appeal to the West Pennsylvania Synod, which resulted in that body appointing Revs. A. Babb and Peter Sahm as missionaries to Clearfield county, and counties farther west. Rev. Sahm only made one or two visits to New Millport in the autumn of 1839, but Rev. Babb (who is still living) came more frequently. These services were held in the first house in New Millport, built by David Erhard, sr., probably about 1834. Rev. John Willox, a Scotchman, was the first pastor of a regularly organized congregation. He came to the county in the year 1840 and organized the church in Christian Erhard's house, where his son, Enoch Erhard, now resides, in March, 1841, with the following members: Christian Straw, John High and wife, Sarah, Christian Erhard and wife, Jane, Abraham High, George Erhard and wife, Susanna, Elizabeth High, Mary High, Rebecca High. Rev. Willox held the first communion service in the barn on the same farm where the organization took place. He served one year. This was the first Lutheran organization in the county, and the first church of any denomination in Knox and Ferguson townships. Christian Erhard and John High were the first elders.
About the year 1842 or 1843 a small church was built on the Curwensville road, on the hill opposite where the village of New Millport now stands, and on the lot now occupied by the parsonage. It was a small frame structure, but served the purpose ten years or more, and was then used as a school-house. Rev. J. G. Dunning took charge in the spring of 1842 and served the charge three years. He was succeeded by Rev. John A. Nuner, who remained until 1847. In that year Rev. P. P. Lane came to the charge. When Rev. Lane left the charge in 1852 the membership numbered about forty. Rev. Christian Diehl took charge in 1852 and during his pastorate the present church was erected. The corner stone was laid in 1853 and the church completed the following year. The edifice is still in good condition and its value two thousand dollars. Rev. William Rex, now of Mapleton, Pa., was the sixth pastor who ministered to this congregation, remaining about one year. After a vacancy of six months Rev. Isaac Stine came to the charge in the spring of 1858. In the same year he resigned and was followed in 1859 by Rev. Joseph R. Focht, who is still in the ministry at West End, Bedford county, Pa. In the spring of 1862 Rev. J. H. Bratton was installed pastor and served the congregation until 1864, when, on account of failing health, he resigned, and after a vacancy of one year Rev. A. R. Height was called to the charge in the autumn of 1865. His stay was short, and in 1867 Rev. J. R. Williams accepted a call. He was succeeded in 1869 by Rev. Abel Thompson, under whose supervision the new parsonage opposite the cemetery, and near the church, was built at a cost of thirteen hundred dollars. He served the congregation four years and was universally esteemed for his modest and friendly demeanor. Rev. Williams accepted the New Millport charge January 1, 1884. During his pastorate he was greatly afflicted in the loss of his two only children, a daughter aged sixteen and a son aged twelve, in May, 1875. He did not long survive them. In January, 1886, he breathed his last, and his body was taken to Funkstown, Md., for interment. One month after the death of Rev. Triday a council meeting was held and Rev. P. B. Sherk, then of Karthaus, was called to the charge. He served this people for five years, or until April 1, 1881. His health failed and he was called to his reward May 30, 1882, and was buried in the cemetery opposite the parsonage. April, 1882, Rev. A. J. Bean, now serving Clearfield charge, was elected as pastor. According to resolutions of synod New Millport, Clearfield and Bloomington were formed into a charge, and Glasgow, formerly of New Millport, was added to Bellwood. Rev. Bean served in this connection until May, 1885, when Clearfield was again made a separate charge. In October of the same year Rev. George W. Grist, the present pastor, received and accepted a call to New Millport charge, consisting of two appointments. The church has now about one hundred communicants. The present elders are Samuel Tobias, Robert High, and M. R. Lewis. The deacons are A. F. Bloom and James M. Bloom. The Lutheran Sunday-school was organized about 1877 as a Lutheran school. Previous to this time it had been called a Union school, but was carried on and supported principally by members of the Lutheran Church, and also held in their building. The school numbers about one hundred and twenty-five members and a great interest is manifested; Philip Erhard is the superintendent.
Baptist Church.-- The New Millport Baptist Church was organized in the year 1873 under the pastorate of Rev, W A, Ridge, John S. Williams and James Glenn were elected deacons, and Abner Glenn, clerk. The member-ship numbered twenty. Services were held in the old Methodist Church for several years, and afterwards in a shop on John S. Williams's farm, The meetings are now held in the Lutheran Church, On account of many members moving away the membership of the church shows no material increase.
Source: Pages 523-531, History of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich, Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co., Publishers, 1887.
Transcribed July 2007 by F. W. Viebrock for the Clearfield County Aldrich Project
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